This Web site is intended to serve as a resource for students and scholars of U.S. history and U.S. women's history. Organized around the history of women in social movements in the U.S. between 1600 and 2000, the site seeks to advance scholarly debates and understanding of U.S. history at the same time that it makes the insights of women's history accessible to teachers and students at universities, colleges, and high schools. We are an online journal and publish new issues twice a year, in March and September. The site is available to academic libraries by subscription or purchase in either the Basic or the Scholar's edition. For a history of the development of the website, click here.
Women and Social Movements: Basic Edition contains the following resources:
- 124 document projects or archives that interpret and present documents, most of which are not otherwise available online. Each document project poses an interpretive question and provides a collection of documents that address the question. Altogether these document projects provide more than 5,100 documents, 1,400 images, and 1,100 links to other websites. They demonstrate that historical analysis is an interpretive process based on documents. Viewers of the site are encouraged to participate in that interpretive process. We usually add six new document projects or archives annually. Women and Social Movements is also now accepting submissions of document projects for consideration for online publication.
- More than 70,000 pages of sources pertaining to Women and Social Movements. These materials have been selected by the Editors for their relevance to the focus of the website. We add 5,000 additional pages of sources annually. For a listing of full-text sources, go to Browse Sources and click on Full Text Primary Sources.
- A dictionary of social movements and organizations.
- A chronology of U.S. Women's History.
- Teaching Tools with lesson ideas and document-based questions related to the website's document projects.
- Book and web site reviews published in each issue.
- Regularly-published news from archives about primary sources in U.S. Women's History.
Women and Social Movements: Scholar's Edition contains all of these resources plus:
- A digital archive, consisting of 90,000 pages of publications of federal, state, and local Commissions on the Status of Women between 1961 and 2005.
- An online edition of the five-volume biographical dictionary, Notable American Women (1971-2004).
The website that appears here under the joint imprint of the Center for the Historical Study of Women and Gender at the State University of New York, Binghamton, and Alexander Street of Alexandria, Virginia, began in a senior seminar that Kathryn Sklar taught at the SUNY Binghamton in the Spring of 1997. The course was designed to introduce advanced undergraduates to the excitement of discovering, editing, and analyzing historical documents that focus on women and social movements in American history. The students produced portions of what became the website's first document projects in December 1997.
When the format of documentary projects proved extremely well matched to the new internet media, Thomas Dublin, her colleague at SUNY Binghamton, joined her to create an innovative website for the documentary projects, adding his knowledge of U.S. women's history and his experience with the use of computers in historical research. With support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and later from Houghton Mifflin and ProQuest Information and Learning, the Women and Social Movements website grew rapidly. In 2001, with a second NEH grant, we began a collaboration with eleven faculty from other colleges and universities around the country. By the end of 2002 the website offered 43 documentary projects that interpreted about 1,000 documents ranging from 1775 to 2000. The site attracted about 30,000 viewers a month from more than ninety countries. Yet two aspects of the website were not sustainable: the intensive labor needed to transform student work into authoritative scholarly analysis; and the initial sources of the site's funding.
This combination of success and challenges prompted us to reconceive the Women and Social Movements website in the Spring of 2002. Convinced that the technology and the format of the website were ideally matched to generate new knowledge in U.S. Women's History, we decided to encourage faculty and advanced graduate students to create document projects for the site. That effort was remarkably successful; for more than two years we published regular additions to the website from a wide range of scholars drawing on their specialized knowledge of women and social movements to create documentary projects for the site. We established an Editorial Board for the website as well as guidelines for submissions with blind peer review. In the Spring of 2002 we also began discussions with Stephen Rhind-Tutt of Alexander Street Press, which resulted in our decision to publish jointly with ASP. This relationship has provided stability for the website and facilitated its expansion.
In March 2004 we became a quarterly online journal and for five years added new document projects quarterly, publishing on average eight new projects annually. Because each issue grew in size, in 2009 we changed to a semi-annual publication schedule to give ourselves time to prepare the extensive material that now flowed into WASM. In addition to document projects, with each issue we also publish digitized versions of books and pamphlets related to women and social movements in the U.S. expanding the site by about 5,000 pages a year. Initially these volumes focused on one hundred years of the woman suffrage movement, 1830-1930, including the six volumes of The History of Woman Suffrage (1881-1922) edited by Stanton, Anthony, and other leaders of the woman suffrage movement and all the proceedings of the three national conventions of anti-slavery women held in the 1830s and the national woman's rights conventions held between 1848 and 1869. Alexander Street Press has provided detailed semantic indexing and database searching for these and other resources on the site, greatly improving its scholarly utility. A Dictionary of Social Movements and a Chronology of U.S. Women's History, both especially prepared for the website, provide users unique subject access to both document projects and full-text sources on the site. We also publish book reviews under the editorial direction of Professor Jeanne Petit of Hope College and website reviews edited by Melanie Shell-Weiss of Johns Hopkins University.
In addition to the continuing publication of new document projects and digitization of additional sources, we are committed to expanding the Teaching Tools component of the website. Since January 2001 we have published lesson ideas and document-based questions drawing on the website's rich collection of document projects. These teaching tools—now numbering 43 in September 2011—are now fully indexed and thus are more accessible than in the past. We will be adding new teaching tools annually and eventually we hope to have a teaching tool for every document project or archive in the database.
In March 2007 we introduced the new, expanded Women and Social Movements in the United States: Scholar's Edition. The new expansion of the site includes the Women's Commissions Collection. It also includes Harvard University Press's landmark five-volume Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary, available for the first time in electronic form. Women and Social Movements in the United States: Scholar's Edition is available as an upgrade to the Basic Edition. In 2011 and 2012 we published a major new digital archive, "Women and Social Movements, International—1840 to Present," which contains 150,000 pages of published and manuscript resources generated by women's international activism since 1840. That new resource is available by subscription to academic libraries.
A note on transcription:
To prepare our key-entered transcriptions of documents we begin with photocopies of the original documents, whether archival manuscripts or published works. We transcribe originals as they appear and do not correct errors in spelling or non-standard punctuation except in the case of typographical errors in printed sources or insignificant errors in manuscript sources. Errors have not been noted with "[sic]" except in cases where recognition of the error illuminates the document. We have only added words occasionally to clarify the meaning of an obscure passage and have always used brackets [ ] on such occasions. We have always used ellipses to indicate places where we have excerpted portions from a longer document. Where we have deleted a paragraph or more, we have inserted asterisks to mark this editing. We have also added signatures in brackets if the original document was an internal copy of a letter and as such did not have a signature.
Kathryn Kish Sklar, Distinguished Professor of History, Emerita
Thomas Dublin, Distinguished Professor of History, Emeritus
Center for the Historical Study of Women and Gender
State University of New York at Binghamton
Binghamton, New York 13902-6000
Page updated January 2018
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